On the back of the recently released final guidance and as the October deadline draws closer, the introduction of the Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) is a hot topic – as it should be!
“The AWR is a piece of legislation due to be rolled out in October this year. It is working towards affording the same benefits and concessions to temporary workers as to full time employees; based on a specified contract period and a number of comparative tests.”
Various Employment Agencies and Umbrella Companies within the UK are starting to announce how they will cope with the imminent introduction, with the Swedish Derogation Model being the ‘solution de jour’, as we predicted some time ago.
Meanwhile, many Employment Agencies and recruiters sit under the cloud of confusion that the ‘grey’ AWR brings. Right now, all that is certain is that:
- There is no “one size fits all” solution to AWR for the myriad of temporary and contractor workers
- Clients and hirers must not bury their head in the sand, in the hope that doing nothing will work
- Evasion is not an option; compliancy is the only way forward!
Crystal Umbrella maintains its position that we can assist you in the attempt to negate the risk and financial impact of the AWR, on both your business and that of your clients. We can offer protection with a range of business solutions; designed to meet the varying and specific needs of your contractor workers and help guide you through any uncertainty.
However, responsibility still lies with both parties, to undertake practical work in terms of administering the regulations to provide the relevant information between them. This responsibility will also apply to additional parties further down the supply chain, in order to fulfill their obligations and further protect themselves from any potential claim.
So, what “practical issues” should our Agency Partners be considering right now?
Day 1 Rights and Entitlements
Firstly, hirers need to identify if there are any comparable workers/employees to their temporary workforce, then they will need to;
- Establish which collective facilities and amenities are provided to these comparable workers, and whether temporary workers have access to them
- Decide how to provide temporary workers with information about their facilities
- Ensure that all temporary workers have access to information about relevant vacancies
12 Week Qualifying Period
- Agencies need to consider what data is required from agency workers at registration, and on each subsequent assignment, regarding work history
- Evaluate their workers’ pay and treatment to that of the hirer’s comparable worker
- Agencies should obtain information from both the client and workers, to ascertain whether they have already worked any qualifying weeks (i.e. has the clock started).
- They need to define processes/systems to assist with the capture and tracking of the 12 weeks period
- Identify and apply amendments to existing contracts
- Ensure terms are included in these contracts
- Understand when these contracts should be issued (e.g. Swedish Derogation contract must be issued prior to first assignment after 01/10/11)
Other Steps to Avoid Claims
- Establish whether your workers could be inside or outside the scope of the regulations
- Identify and engage reputable service providers (e.g. umbrella companies) that can limit the risk of AWR claims (or indemnify against them); whilst catering for range of contractor types, using a variety of business models and advice
- Ensure all parties are aware of the regulations
- Install systems to ensure agency worker queries can be dealt with quickly and efficiently
Agencies need to:
- brief staff about AWR and understand the timescales involved
- ensure staff know what information about equal treatment they will need to request from the hirer
- understand when this information will need to be collected from hirers, to allow them to provide correct treatment to the qualifying agency workers
- consider how this information will flow if they are multiple tiers in the supply chain
As you can see there is still a lot to consider and without adequate preparation, AWR has the potential to be a serious issue, so is no “storm in a teacup”. With that in mind we will be issuing a detailed guide to AWR for Recruiters in the upcoming weeks so keep an eye out…all our Newspepper readers will be first of course.
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For more information on how Crystal Umbrella can support your Agency when AWR comes in, please contact Tim Cumberland on 0800 848 8888 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.